The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (2013)
The Testing is about a girl named Cia who lives in a rural colony in future America. Every year the smartest and most talented students are chosen to take the testing, in order to determine who the future leaders of the country will be. To be selected for the testing is an honor and the family is compensated for sending off their teen. Cia’s dad had previously gone through the testing and before she leaves for Tosu, the main city, he warns her to be careful, because while he no longer remembers what happens during the testing process, he has nightmares that haunt him about what might have happened.
So, I read this book on a recommendation from a friend who said he liked it better than The Hunger Games. I’ve also seen lots of reviews stating that this book is a rip-off of The HG. While I like The HG more, I will add that this book made more sense than the HG did. Initially, about twenty pages into the book, I was texting my friend and saying “dude, this is a total rip-off of The HG”. His response, “keep reading.” While there are many similarities between the two series, The Testing is more about Cia’s discovery of the terrible state in which her country is run and her horror at the lack of human capacity during the testing. The Hunger Games is also more about government revenge on those who rebelled and keeping people on place, while The Testing is the government searching for answers, and the characters are not specifically fighting each other to survive.
The book brought into question what the good qualities of a leader are, mostly because that’s why these characters were being tested, to find a future leader. The characters were often wondering what choices previous leaders of the country had to make and why they made them.
“Maybe that’s the mark of a real leader. Admitting a mistake has been made and finding a way to stop it at all costs.”
“The best leaders never makes the same mistakes again. The only way you can learn is if you understand the mistakes that were made.”
I ended up staying awake until almost 2 am to finish the book once I got rolling with it. I woke up early the next morning to complete it before heading into work. The one thing I did not love about this book was the romantic story line between Cia and childhood friend Tomas, it felt sort of forced and quick. I prefer a well developed and (somewhat) slow build up to romance. Plus, Tomas was a bit one-dimensional and not very interesting to me. His description was basically that he was good looking and smart. Give the reader something else to go on!
So basically, this book was very intriguing and captivating. I do not want to give too much away, but the reader will remain breathless until the end trying to figure out the results of the testing for all of the characters involved.